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The Visitor--an inspirational short story series

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For The Strength of Youth

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Submitted by Steven ODell on 12 January 2009 - 4:01pm.

The Prison
Steven G. O'Dell ©2008

Amery Gibbons sat alone in his cell, wondering how things had ever come to this. He had a wonderful wife and three lovely children waiting and praying for him at home, he knew. Yet, here he was in a prison cell, for a crime he never committed. The evidence was entirely circumstantial--or he had been framed. He couldn't be certain, but he knew he hadn't felt entirely comfortable with the job offer or the new boss he had acquired. He only had considered that the money would be good and he could deliver on that promised vacation for the family. Now, no one was taking any vacation, except the boss and a few coworkers who had conveniently disappeared. Amery stared at the walls as long as he could and then dropped to his knees beside the cot.

"Dear God, please help me. You know I am innocent of this crime. I have never stolen money from anyone. I haven't stolen anything since I was a child--and only then because I didn't know what stealing was. I took the candy back, as you know. Since then my life has been clean and so has my conscience. What must I do to clear my name? Will you please help me?"

As he said these words, Amery felt a sudden warmth in his breast and a peace that he had never before felt. Somehow he knew that things would be alright. He gave thanks and rose to his bed for the first good sleep he had had in weeks.

==========

"Gibbons! You have a visitor."

The voice came shrill and the harsh metallic grating of the lock and sliding of the door was no more melodious, but Amery welcomed it today, wondering if his wife or his lawyer might be bringing news that would free him at last. He walked cheerfully to the walkway and turned to follow the path that would lead him to the visitor station.

"Who are you?" Here stood a man that Amery had never met. He looked pleasant enough, but he had expected someone that he had already known. Perhaps there had been a mistake?

The guard watched closely as the man reached across the table and shook hands with Gibbons. Any evidence of exchange of paraphernalia would be dealt with harshly and immediately.

"My name is Timothy Servant. You may call Timothy. I am here to help you in any way I might."

"I don't recall ever having met you before, Timothy. Why would you want to help me?"

"Did you not pray for help last night? Aren't you innocent of the charges brought against you?" He looked a bit surprised as he asked.
"Yes, I did pray for help and yes, I am innocent. I would never steal or embezzle money."

"Alright, then. Who I am isn't as important as what I am here to do for you. Don't you agree?" He didn't wait for a reply, but proceeded immediately to declare information to Amery that would help in his appeal.

"The man you knew as your boss, Harvey Jakes, is actually wanted in several states for embezzlement con schemes. His real name is Taylor James Harvey. He simply used his last name as a first name in this scheme. He has family in Chicago and he visits there about once per month, usually in the last week of the month. He tells them that he is a salesman and has to travel constantly.

"His associates wait for his call after each trip home and arrange to meet him at his next planned point of operations. Their names are George L. Davies and Roman Palovar, both from San Francisco. They have been involved with Harvey for the last five years and have helped pull off dozens of these scams, amounting to several millions of dollars. Palovar isn't as smart as he would like to think--he keeps a journal of all their 'jobs' in a wall safe behind his bed. He thinks no one will ever look there. He's wrong. Your lawyer will see to it that the FBI does.

"You will need to remember what I told you and share it immediately with your lawyer. Do you understand?"

"Uhhh...yeah, sure. Taylor Harvey--Chicago; George Davies and Roman Palovar--San Francisco; wall safe behind the bed. How do you know this? Do you know my lawyer?" Amery sat stunned and not knowing what else to say.

"I told you that the message is more important than anything else, didn't I? What matters is that you get this information to your lawyer as quickly as possible. They will need time to get search warrants and wire-tap approval. You have just enough time before they move on to the next 'job' and by acting now, you can save someone important a very big problem if you do. Alright?" He stood as if to leave and the guard watched closely as he again shook hands with Gibbons.

"Timothy, this certainly sounds like an answer to prayer, but who is going to believe me when I tell them a stranger came in and provided this information and then left as mysteriously as he appeared?" He couldn't help but flash a half-hearted smile.

"I will." He winked, smiled, turned toward the door and in a moment had vanished from sight.

Amery stood in a mix of stunned puzzlement and unexpected gratitude for a long moment, then left with the guard who had accompanied him into the room.

His prayer that night, after relaying the information to his lawyer, was one of humble thanksgiving for all that he had been given in his life. He did not dwell on the troubles and sorrows of recent days, but gave pure thanks for all his blessings. And he exercised total faith that all would be well with him in the coming days and weeks. Again he slept well, feeling the assurance that he was in good hands.

============

The happy day came a few weeks later that Amery was called to the Warden's office. Amery knew in his heart what was about to happen. He was smiling from ear to ear with joy and could barely contain himself.

"Mr. Gibbons, it appears you already know why I have called you here."

"I have my suspicions." The smile never left his face for a moment.

"Have a seat, please." He, too, was smiling. "It appears that a travesty of justice has taken place and that the wrong man was convicted here. Your lawyer will be coming soon to make arrangements for your release. And the Governor of our great state will be personally apologizing and wishing you well hereafter. I just wanted to be the first to tell you, if you don't mind. There was something that bothered me from the start--from our first meeting. Deep inside there was something that said. 'this man didn't do what he was accused of'. I hear it all the time from the new inmates and most of the time I can see right through it. In your case, it was different. You didn't protest in the same way. There was sincerity and real anguish in your voice. Real dismay at what was claimed. I have wanted to set things right ever since. To tell the truth, I haven't slept well since we met that day. I am glad that tonight will be better."

"To tell the truth, I haven't slept well either."

Both men laughed aloud and shook hands. Amery was instructed to get his things ready and be prepared for release that afternoon--an assignment that he welcomed with open arms. His wife and kids would be the first things he would see as he left this awful place. They would look more beautiful than they ever had to him and he would never take them for granted ever again.

=========

Amery's lawyer sat with him in his living room. The smell of apple pie baking in the oven wafted through the house and the laughter of children playing in the yard rose like music around them. A sense of peace was apparent--a sense of 'all is right in the world once again'.

"You do realize, don't you Amery, that the information you gave me was like a miracle? We could never have gotten you out of prison without it."

"Yes, I know. I believe it was a miracle, in fact. You didn't know this Timothy Servant and neither did I. It seems that no one does. And yet he appears to talk to me, out of thin air. I can't explain it rationally without attributing it to a miracle. It's the only thing that makes any sense."

"I agree. I would never have thought myself a believer until now, but I can't explain any other way, either. I'm amazed, too, that the wheels of justice turned so smoothly and in the right direction to get the warrants and approvals needed. I have never seen that kind of efficiency in all the years I have been practicing law. Everything from the prison letting this man in to see you--not a friend, family member or your attorney--to the fact that anyone took the information seriously enough to follow up on it without some form of prior evidence or verification that it was, in fact, true. It simply astounds me. Maybe they thought you were 'ratting' these guys out. That's the only thing I can conclude."

"It was the journal that got me off, though. If Palovar hadn't recorded my name and labeled me a 'patsy' in the whole thing, I would still be considered just an unfortunate accomplice who got caught. All that information could just as easily have been considered proof that I was involved in the scam. Scary, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is. But that's over. Amery, now that you've been completely exonerated, what do you have planned?"

"Plans? First, we are going to take a vacation! It won't be the one that I had wanted, but it will be just as wonderful. Prison has a way of putting things into perspective. And then, I will get a new job--only this time... I will be much more careful who I work for."

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